Daily News Cover, July 23, 2019
Humiliating videos surfaced online Monday of groups of jeering punks dousing NYPD officers with water in separate incidents — and in one case, hitting a cop in the head with a bucket while trying to make an arrest.
In all the videos, the attacked officers refused to confront their tormentors.
The viral clips, which appear to have been shot during the city’s recent heat wave, enraged NYPD cops and had the city’s top police unions blaming New York politicians and their “anti-police rhetoric” for the officers’ lack of response.
“Our anti-cop lawmakers have gotten their wish: the NYPD is now frozen,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch fumed. “It’s not the fault of these police officers. It’s the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been streaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now.
“We are approaching the point of no return," Lynch said. “Disorder controls the streets, and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to take them back. As police officers, we need to draw a line.”
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, called the videos “horrific and dangerous” and blamed Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill for the displays of “lawless behavior and utter disregard for law enforcement.”
He also called for O’Neill to resign.
“The liquids in the buckets could just as easily have been bleach, gasoline, or some other toxic substance,” Mullins said in a statement.
“The perpetrators of these crimes are emboldened by the Mayor, who has shown nothing but disdain and contempt for the police since January 2014, when he was sworn into his first term."
In one clip, cops in Brownsville, Brooklyn, walk away sheepishly as they’re mocked and soaked with buckets of water. Police sources say the officers were responding to an unruly crowd on E. New York Ave. near Herzl St. and turned to leave when the group splashed them.
Another video shows several men tossing water at two officers while they try to arrest a man on the hood of their car on St. Nicholas Ave. at W. 115th St. in Harlem. At one point, a shirtless man throws an empty red bucket at the cops, hitting one officer in the back of the head.
In a third clip, a young woman is repeatedly soaked by a group of men carrying buckets as she tries to talk to officers sitting in a patrol SUV. The cops remain inside their vehicle as the men laugh.
After the videos surfaced, NYPD brass sent out a “Finest Message” memo to the department’s cops, letting them know they don’t have to take this behavior.
Though taunts and curses alone don’t rise to the level of a crime or violation, officers can charge obstructing government administration, criminal tampering, harassment or disorderly conduct “where an individual intentionally sprays or douses a member of service with water while performing their duties.” If an officer is injured by a water spray or a thrown object, the attacker can be charged with felony assault.
Cops should be ready to describe specifically how the behavior affected their ability to do their jobs, the memo reads.
Mullins called the memo a “feel-good” missive instead of a strong message telling officers the department has their backs.
“They’re giving you the sections of law that we all know ... It’s weak. You’re putting out a response re-iterating what the law is," Mullins said.
In a tweet Monday afternoon, NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan made no mention of public policy but denounced the men who attacked the cops in Harlem.
“The videos of cops being doused with water and having objects hurled at them as they made an arrest in #Harlem is reprehensible,” he wrote. “NYC’s cops & communities have made remarkable progress — together — but EVERY New Yorker MUST show respect for our cops. They deserve nothing less.”
Mayor de Blasio piggy-backed on Monahan’s statement, tweeting, “Completely unacceptable. A video from the 28 Precinct shows people interfering in an arrest by throwing water and objects at officers. The NYPD kept New Yorkers safe through the heatwave and last night’s outages. We won’t tolerate this kind of disrespect. NYPD is investigating.”
De Blasio did not refer to the officers walking away from the mocking crowd in Brownsville, or the woman who was drenched while cops watched.
An NYPD lieutenant speculated that the cops — particularly the one doused with water when he was walking away — knew they would have to file a use of force report since it didn’t appear that they were in the middle of a police action at the time.
“If these kids were injured when they were being arrested, then (Internal Affairs) would have to be involved,” the lieutenant said. “They probably weighed the risk and thought it was too much.
“But my dad was a cop, and in my father’s day all of these guys would have been in the hospital," the lieutenant said. "The job’s got these cops scared to take action.”
A police supervisor who saw the videos lauded the Harlem officers for ignoring the jeers, but said the other cops should have been disciplined “for taking the abuse and doing nothing about it.”
An NYPD detective added that the department has become too soft in its effort to win back the trust and respect of various neighborhoods.
“These cops should have done something but they walked off like nothing happened,” the supervisor said. "I’m seeing red right now.”